Beer Monopoly



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On our own behalf – The Beer Monopoly on the Forbes List „Best Booze Books of 2017“

We are speechless. Surprised. Humbled. Incredibly grateful. Our book The Beer Monopoly appears on this year`s Forbes List "Best Booze Books". No, no, it`s not the Forbes Rich List. Fat chance of us ever getting on to that one.
The list was compiled by Tara Nurin and can be found here >>


Posted September 2020 >> podcast


AB-InBev seeks replacement for CEO Brito

Belgium – CEO Brito’s critics have won. The world’s major brewer is considering external candidates to replace Mr Brito, 60, who has been its CEO for 16 years and has overseen a string of deals which have transformed two Brazilian and Belgian brewers into the global giant AB-InBev.

It was the London newspaper the Financial Times (FT), which broke the story on 7 September 2020, citing people with knowledge of the matter. That is the journalistic turn of phrase for “insiders from high up”.

It was also the FT that reported in January that AB-InBev was looking for a replacement for its veteran finance chief Felipe Dutra, 55. The Brazilian born Mr Dutra officially resigned in February and was succeeded by the internal candidate Fernando Tennenbaum.

Both Mr Brito and Mr Dutra had pulled off AB-InBev’s biggest deal to date – the USD 122 billion takeover of its nearest rival SABMiller in 2015. The acquisition, which was meant to bring SABMiller’s African assets under AB-InBev’s control, hasn’t turned out as expected. It has landed AB-InBev with a perilously high debt load of USD 87.4 billion at the end of June and little room to maneuver.

First the CFO, now the CEO

At the time, the resignation of Mr Dutra was widely seen as a pawn sacrifice. AB-InBev’s powerful shareholders had sought to keep their CEO safely out of the firing line of analysts. But his time was running out when analysts began to blame the debacle of the USD 2.5 billion write-down on the brewer’s African assets, announced in July, roundly on Mr Brito.

Making matters worse for Mr Brito, AB-InBev’s shares are currently trading 60 percent below their all-time high of EUR 122 per share in November 2015. This indicates that investors don’t trust AB-InBev’s current leadership to get a grip on the firm’s future.

Naturally, AB-InBev declined to comment on the FT report, which also said that the company is currently considering only one internal candidate, Michel Doukeris, 46, who heads its North American business.

Mr Brito may join the board

Per the FT, Mr Brito is involved with the board in the process and plans to step down at some point next year. It is also possible that Mr Brito remains in charge for longer if a replacement cannot be found before then. The FT added that Mr Brito is expected to join AB-InBev’s board after stepping down.

Analysts at Bernstein Research said in a note that the timing of the leadership change is opportune, as the firm will need to shift to more internal growth after years of acquisition-led expansion. Bernstein also said it made sense for AB-InBev to look outside the company, but it was most likely that an internal candidate would prevail, given AB-InBev’s strong Brazilian culture.

The FT found out that AB-InBev is already working with the recruitment firm Spencer Stuart on the search.

United Kingdom – BrewDog worries about end to government furlough scheme

The government has said it would close its covid-19 support programme for businesses and employees at the end of October 2020. The gamble is that the economy will soon recover from its coronavirus-induced torpor and employees can return to work. Read on

United Kingdom – Government spent GBP 520 million on “Eat out to Help out scheme”

Guess what, the government’s scheme “Eat out to Help out“ for the ailing hospitality industry has proven more popular than expected. Under the scheme, more than 100 million meals were ordered in August, costing the taxpayer around GBP 520 million (USD 690 million). According to the online booking site Open Table, at the end of August, restaurants were twice as busy as in the same period last year. 84,700 restaurants, pubs and cafes had taken part in the discount programme, which only ran for one month. Read on

United Kingdom – Beavertown revs up online sales during pandemic

Craft brewer Beavertown hopes that this year’s sales will come in at least flat on last year’s levels. In its 2019/20 financial year, it grew sales nearly 80 percent to around GBP 35 million (USD 47 million), The Telegraph newspaper reports. When the government shut down the UK’s hospitality industry, probably 85 percent of Beavertown’s business was wiped out. Luckily, Beavertown has good relationships with some of the big supermarket chains and off-premise sales soared. Read on

United Kingdom – BrewDog launches fake Aldi IPA

It is a funny story. BrewDog will launch an Aldi-themed ale after its Twitter spat with the discount supermarket chain – and Aldi will even stock it as of October. The whole thing started when Aldi released a new “Anti-Establishment IPA” – which many thought was a knock-off of BrewDog's brand Punk IPA, as it came in a similar looking blue can. Read on

USA – Craft brewers face first year of diminished sales

The Brewers Association estimates a 10 to 20 percent decline in sales for small and independently-owned craft breweries in 2020, after a drop of around 10 percent through the first half of 2020. This could mean a loss of 3 to 6 million hl beer over 2019. Bob Pease, CEO of the Brewers Association, said in August that “2020 will be the first year that beer sales from small and independent breweries across the nation don’t grow,” and he blames it largely on the covid-19 pandemic. Read on

United Kingdom – Scottish craft brewers fear devastating beer duty hike

Craft brewers north of the border fear their futures could be sunk by new tax penalties proposed by the UK government on 22 July 2020. The plan, which has yet to be fleshed out, would see the threshold for tax relief reduced by more than half from 5,000 hl to 2,100 hl in annual beer production. While in the UK there have already been petitions demanding a government U-turn on the plan, Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing waited until September to send a letter to his UK counterpart. In the letter, he expressed his grave concern that the change could ruin businesses already struggling under the pandemic. Read on


Bahamas – Bahamian Brewery’s double whammy

It has taken the Bahamian Brewery more than a year to come back on-line. In early September 2019, the tropical storm Dorian hit the islands, putting the brewery under more than one metre of water for hours and destroying all its electrical installations, finished product and raw materials. It wasn’t so much the storm as the flood water which ruined the 45,000 hl brewery – despite it being built four metres above sea level as a precaution against flooding. Read on

United Kingdom – Top beer brands take a hit to their value

The world’s most valuable alcoholic drinks brands could lose up to USD 33 billion worth of brand value as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, a Brand Finance report claims. In its most recent report (August 2020) Brand Finance, a consultancy, expects beer brands to be the most heavily impacted. Potentially they could lose 20 percent of their brand value, whereas spirits, champagne and wine brands will only be moderately impacted, with an estimated 10 percent brand value loss. Read on

USA – Cannabis beverages: patience is the word

Long time no hear from cannabis beverages. Although much hyped in 2019, they seem to have disappeared from view as hard seltzers have taken off. But don’t write them off yet. According to a report by the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), a data firm, cannabis is a rare case of a market which is ambiguous as to its legality, even as it continues to remove its legal ambiguity. Read on

Australia – China launches anti-dumping probe into Australian wine imports

The trade dispute between China and Australia is heating up. China has begun an anti-dumping probe into imports of Australian wine, it said on 18 August 2020. The probe is more than just symbolic. China is Australia’s major trading partner. Australian wine exports, though small (AUD 2 billion out of AUD 274 billion in total exports in 2019), were the pride of the country’s agriculture. If found guilty, Australian wines could be slapped with punitive tariffs. Read on

United Kingdom – Watchdog to investigate Marston’s and Carlsberg’s joint venture

Only after some prodding did the competition authority decide to probe the joint venture between UK brewer and pub operator Marston’s and Carlsberg UK, which was announced in May 2020. The watchdog will sniff out if the proposed brewing and distribution joint venture between Marston’s and Carlsberg will result in a substantial lessening of competition. Read on

United Kingdom – Diageo buys another celebrity tipple

Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds has become the latest celebrity to cash in on the popularity of premium spirits. The UK drinks group Diageo has bought the gin brand he co-owns, Aviation American, along with three other spirits as part of a USD 610 million transaction, media reported on 17 August 2020. Mr Reynolds has agreed to remain the face of Aviation American for the next ten years. He follows actor George Clooney, rapper P Diddy and footballer David Beckham in striking deals with Diageo. Read on



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